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Sleeping Rough

Sleeping rough (sleeping on the street) is a last resort for a homeless person. It is extremely dangerous and unpleasant and should be avoided if possible.

  • Aside from having nowhere to sleep, rest and relax, sleeping rough can lead to health problems from continually being cold or wet, not having enough to eat and not getting enough sleep
  • It can put you at risk of people taking advantage of you with your judgement being impaired from hunger, cold and sleep deprivation and more seriously can put you at risk of being attacked
  • Sometimes prolonged periods of rough sleeping can lead to problems with alcohol and substance misuse, with people attempting to ‘numb’ themselves from the cold and hunger

If you have tried all other options and have no other choice, you should try and stay as safe and warm as you possibly can.

Here are some tips for staying safe and healthy on the streets:

  • Try and find somewhere sheltered away from the wind or rain
  • Stay protected from the cold and wind with a blanket or sleeping bag
  • Do not sleep directly on the ground but on a sheet or blanket if you can
  • Try and stay in a place that outreach teams visit. They may bring free food and water and blankets. They can also give you advice or take you to the nearest shelter if there is room
  • Try and sleep with a group of people to stay safer, but avoid public places if possible to reduce the dangers of the general public, such as violence or abuse
  • If you do find a people in the same circumstances where you can all sleep as a group, don’t feel pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable with. If you don’t feel safe then don’t stay with them
  • Getting medical treatment if you are sleeping rough can be difficult, although you are still entitled to register with a doctor. If you are sick, some surgeries have drop-in centres or a nurse may visit a local outreach centre. If it is an emergency, call 999 or visit your local hospital's accident and emergency unit
  • It may be a good idea to store any belongings you have at a local day centre, if the facility is available. This reduces the chance of being robbed or threatened on the street
  • Find out about your local outreach centres, day centres and charity services for the homeless. They will be your best chance of getting into accommodation or getting advice on how you can get yourself off the street

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